Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 (1797–1861)
The Vigorous Growth of the Erotic Pine
(Shunshoku matsu no sakae), vol. 1 of 3

Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), c. 1848–1854
Woodblock-printed book; ink and color on paper
Purchase, Richard Lane Collection, 2003

As printing technology improved dramatically in the 19th century, artists such as Kuniyoshi started to include tabs on particular pages that could be opened to transform part of the composition. In this instance, three women from the Yoshiwara brothel district are shown sitting amidst cherry blossoms and lanterns, but when the tab is flipped, one woman disappears, and the remaining two are shown admiring a large hanging scroll. The scroll appears to be an erotic parody of the Buddhist work Descent of Amida (Amida raigō), in which the Amida Buddha and his celestial attendants have transformed into vaginas and their halos (mandorla) assume the appearance of pubic hair.

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